Undergrad donors?

By Angela Loiacono

Most college undergraduates don’t have enough money to pay the pizza guy and handle tuition simultaneously – let alone make extra donations to the university they attend. But according to the Associated Press, “faced with state budget cuts and the need to remain competitive, public universities around the country are beginning to focus on students as young as freshman and sophomores as prime targets for fund-raising campaigns.”

When I read the first few sentences of the article, I came close to rolling on the floor with laughter. Some public universities are attempting to solicit donations from the students who already dish out thousands of dollars in rising tuition costs. Aren’t schools already asking enough? College is becoming hard enough to pay for without the added pressure of making an additional donation to university funds.

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Maybe if Mommy and Daddy whip out the checkbook every semester and hand over a check with a few zeroes on the end, a few extra dollars won’t matter. But the vast majority of students I know work hard to either pay tuition or scrape together living expenses and spending money. The last thing on their minds is contributing to someone else’s tuition payment.

Public universities are choosing to waste time and money promoting undergrad donations on their campuses. Unless money started growing on trees and someone forgot to tell me, I don’t think this plan is even close to being plausible.

Randy Kangas, vice president of planning and budgeting, said that University tuition will rise seven percent for returning students and nine percent for incoming undergraduates. Students must compensate for the rising cost of education before they can even think of forking over their pocket change as well. With a steady increase in costs over the last few years, students are lucky they can keep their e-bills under control and still stay above the bottom line. It’s almost a joke to ask for more through donations. Although our University has not implemented a similar program, seeing other public universities in the country jump on the bandwagon is discouraging.

Schools that are implementing the program include the likes of the University of Georgia and Auburn University. Much of the money donated by the undergrads will go to a scholarship program for the use of other students. I didn’t know that college-aged kids were now being asked to pay for the schooling of other students.

Most undergrads have their plate full of student loans and trying to schedule a job in between class and happy hour. According to the AP, students at the University of Alabama now have to look at a banner hanging in their student center asking them to make a donation as well. Here’s my question – where are they supposed to get the extra money?

Typically private donations have come from alumni. But because of steadily decreasing government funding in many states, the universities are left to raise tuition and attempt to solicit more private donations.

Graham Smith, coordinator of University of Alabama’s student campaign, told the AP that he believes the program teaches students “what it really costs to run this gigantic machine.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought increasing tuition payments every year were doing just that.

I understand that many public universities are just trying to maintain their campuses and remain competitive, but there must be a better way. Targeting alumni seems like a much more logical action than asking undergrads to donate.

I don’t see where the future of such programs is going. I just hope they don’t show up on this campus. Instead of putting efforts into soliciting students, public universities should be hassling the state government.